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Haas family donation funds Digital Global Forum at new Thunderbird headquarters

August 4, 2021

The transformational gift is in support of the open rotunda event space that pioneers the latest presentation and telepresence technology

The new Thunderbird Global Headquarters on ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus was recently called the “most technologically advanced business school in the world” by one of the lead architects behind its elegant and inclusive design. Thunderbird Global HQ earns this praise largely for the technologically stunning Digital Global Forum envisioned by Thunderbird Director-General and Dean Sanjeev Khagram. This 21st-century gathering space and the dynamic technology within were made possible by a gift from Marius Haas, a Thunderbird alumnus from the class of 1991, and his wife, Lone Haas.

A vibrant and welcoming space near the building’s main entrance, the Digital Global Forum crystallizes and reflects the institution’s foundational mission of advancing inclusive and sustainable prosperity worldwide by providing a physical and digital synthesis of auditorium and amphitheater that’s open to everyone, everywhere. It’s a place for training new generations of principled global leaders to maximize the benefits of rapid technological advancements for all people and our living planet.

The Digital Global Forum features a stadium-style ring of LED video screens that form an encircling digital presentation field. Suspended at the center of the rotunda is a retractable LED globe capable of playing video and presenting dynamic information in a unique spherical form, including displaying Thunderbird social media feeds geographically, or appearing as a digital representation of planet Earth fed by real-time data from NASA. The spacious rotunda also includes two full-wall LED video screens, making for an enveloping, cinematic experience. All these integrated video surfaces are digitally empowered with live global connectivity for the most versatile, sophisticated meeting space in higher education.

Mr. and Mrs. Haas shared, “It is a tremendous privilege to support the Thunderbird community and create a space that empowers global entrepreneurs to lead, innovate, and create markets while embracing our cultural diversity around the world."

To empower students with leading-edge technology in a dynamic and interactive presentation space, Marius Haas (right) and his wife, Lone Haas, made a generous financial contribution to Thunderbird Global Headquarters on ASU's Downtown Phoenix campus.

By including a digital globe, video ring and video walls powered by state-of-the-art Planar LED technology, Thunderbird HQ’s Digital Global Forum greets visitors with an immersive audiovisual experience that not only allows for compelling in-person messaging but also equips the six-continent-spanning Thunderbird community to interact live with students, alumni and partners from Arizona to Zimbabwe in a new virtual modality, convening global audiences both in-person and virtually, simultaneously and seamlessly. The LED systems will connect T-birds and stakeholders from around the world with interactive capabilities including but not limited to panoramic presentations, live social media engagement and hybrid (in-person and virtual) conferences, such as hosting a symposium or seminar open to people in Phoenix and to participants from other countries who join remotely via virtual balconies, stages and spotlights. The forum’s integrated audiovisual system will link the global headquarters to Thunderbird’s nine established Regional Centers of Excellence around the world. With plans for 25 of these satellite mini-campuses in major commercial cities around the world by the year 2025 and guests capable of joining events virtually from almost any online device in any location, the Digital Global Forum will truly live up to its name.

Khagram is confident that this gift will propel Thunderbird even further into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, energizing the institution to take advantage of emerging and converging technologies that connect and engage us all with enhanced modes of collaborating and learning.

“This major gift for our new global headquarters is deeply personal to me as I have had the opportunity to get to know our incredible alum Marius Haas as an anchor member of the Thunderbird Global Advisory Council over the past years," Khagram said. "He represents the very, very best of Thunderbird; his support and guidance have been invaluable in the school’s turnaround and transformation. The Digital Global Forum symbolizes and is a practical manifestation of Thunderbird 4.0 @ ASU, where we are becoming the most global and digital leadership and management school in the world to advance sustainable and inclusive prosperity across our increasingly fragile planet.”

The Haases shared, “It is a tremendous privilege to support the Thunderbird community and create a space that empowers global entrepreneurs to lead, innovate and create markets while embracing our cultural diversity around the world.”

From the Netherlands, Haas attended Thunderbird to explore the world of global business, and his path led him to many roles in various companies, including president and chief commercial officer of Dell Technologies and senior vice president and worldwide general manager of Hewlett-Packard’s networking division. His current role is founding partner of BayPine Capital, a private equity firm focused on enabling businesses to drive a digital transformation so they can best compete in this new economy and Fourth Industrial Revolution, an area of expertise that Thunderbird shares as a trailblazer in the higher-education sector.

Haas spent most of his career leading executive teams and organizations in the technology and enterprise solutions industry and has significant expertise in digital transformation, emerging technologies and B2B technology-enabled business models. His deep understanding and commitment to supporting leaders in preparing their organizations to thrive in multinational and high-tech markets and industries made the T-bird alumnus a perfect collaborator for Thunderbird’s visionary director-general and dean.

“Thanks to Marius and Lone’s gift, our shared vision for advancing transformative learning and collaboration has become a reality in Thunderbird’s Haas Global Forum, which we see as a limitless lyceum for leadership, business and management training, serving as our new headquarters’ main portal to the world, a meeting and learning space designed and built for the new era of technological transformation already underway, which we’re now pioneering in higher education,” Khagram said.

Thunderbird will unveil the Haas Digital Global Forum during the Grand Opening and 75th Anniversary Global Reunion celebrations, held Nov. 4-7, 2021, when Thunderbird will welcome visitors from around the world to share in this incredible new space. The anniversary and reunion week will include global culture nights featuring food, music and dance from around the world, a ribbon-cutting ceremony, a golf tournament, a scholarship gala and a leadership conference. More information about Thunderbird Global Headquarters’ Grand Opening and 75th Anniversary Global Reunion is available at

Written by Megan Petty, senior associate director, development, Office of Engagement at Thunderbird School of Global Management at ASU.

Top photo: Thunderbird's new Global Forum will greet visitors, students and alumni, connecting all via social media live updates from the school's worldwide community and providing a space for presentations that are global in reach and interactive in format. Thunderbird at ASU/Moore Ruble Yudell Architects & Planners 

ASU Thunderbird kicks off 75th anniversary celebrations with Founders' Day

April 1, 2021

Arizona State University's Thunderbird School of Global Management is celebrating 75 years of educating and influencing leaders, executives, entrepreneurs and professionals from the bottom to the top of the pyramid who work across borders and sectors to build inclusive and sustainable prosperity around the world.

On April 8, Thunderbird’s worldwide community is marking its inception with a digital, 24-hour Founders’ Day celebration that launches a series of online and in-person events culminating in the Grand Opening of Thunderbird Global Headquarters Nov. 4–7, 2021. historic photo of planes in a row Planes lined up on the original Thunderbird Airfield, which General Barton Kyle Yount purchased for $1 with the commitment that it be used for educational purposes in the following 10 years. Download Full Image

“Sentiments of nationalism and anti-globalism are rampant around the world, even as the interconnectedness of the world continues to accelerate,” said Thunderbird Dean and Director General Sanjeev Khagram. “As we celebrate our 75th anniversary, Thunderbird 4.0 at ASU is strategically positioned to face these challenges head-on, working to ensure that 2021 is the start of an unparalleled decade of action, renewal, and global transformation — to achieve the U.N. Global Sustainable Development Goals and much more, for prosperity, people and planet. To this end, we have reinvented the school as the most digital and global leadership, management and business academy working across the private, public, and nonprofit sectors worldwide focused on the fourth Industrial Revolution for the AnthropoceneThe new geologic era of human modification of the natural world..”

Founder’s Day will launch Thunderbird’s 75th anniversary festivities in typical T-bird fashion — with a 24-hour, around-the-world celebration. Through the latest technology, alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends will convene for a series of interactive presentations, discussions and virtual networking events designed to bring T-birds all over the globe together as never before. They will celebrate the school’s last 75 years and reimagine it for the next 75 — toward the “Thunderbird Academy of Intergalactic Leadership.”

Participants can connect with the school’s now 14 and soon to be 25-plus regional centers of excellence to discuss timely global topics like “Africa’s Path to Globalization” and “What’s Next for Brexit?” or hear from our newest faculty in the Masrin Center for Global Entrepreneurship and Family Business on “The Top 10 Technologies Your Grandparents Don’t Know About That Will Kill Your Family Business.”

New sessions and events will be held every hour throughout the day. Everyone is welcome to join any live session on Founders’ Day when Thunderbird honors its history and progress while celebrating its present and creating the vision for its future as part of the most innovative university in the U.S.

The quintessentially Thunderbird idea of bringing peace to the world through international commerce has evolved over the last seven and a half decades as globalization intensified and sped up. Thunderbird was established less than a year after the United Nations formed. The school’s founders recognized a need for adaptable mindsets in professionals who could go global, and their innovative solution culminated as Thunderbird. On April 8, 1946, Thunderbird School of Global Management, originally known as the American Institute for Foreign Trade, was chartered on the Glendale, Arizona, World War II air base Thunderbird Field, where pilots from around the world came for training during wartime.

Since that time, the world has also evolved dramatically through several distinct eras, such as decolonization and the emergence of new nation-states.

Dr. Sanjeev Khagram became Thunderbird's Dean and Director General in 2018

Thunderbird Dean and Director-General Sanjeev Khagram

When Thunderbird was founded, most of the peoples of the world were under colonial rule, including my family,” Khagram said. “The school grew and rose to prominence through the Cold War’s early years, through the formation of the New International Economic Order, to the end of the Cold War and Globalization 3.0 in the 1990s. Global management education continued to change rapidly after 9/11, facing major disruption again with the global financial crisis of 2008–09, and Thunderbird changed with it."

In 2015, Thunderbird became part of ASU, and in 2018 it relocated from Glendale to ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus, where its new high-tech global headquarters is in the final phases of construction, on track to welcome its first students in August 2021.

Thunderbird’s 75th anniversary celebrations will honor that rich history while convening a global community of difference-makers to tackle the toughest challenges of tomorrow. In its 75th year, the school’s international community finds itself once again adapting at the vanguard of the higher education sector, not only to accelerating technological advancement but also to climate change and ecosystem destruction, COVID-19 and new demands for social justice.

Thunderbird has often been referred to as a “mini United Nations” because of its diverse and inclusive global faculty, student body, staff and alumni, and therein lies one of its greatest strengths. From Founders’ Day on April 8 to the grand opening of Thunderbird Global Headquarters in November, this longstanding tradition of honoring diversity and fostering cross-cultural connections will be on display, exemplifying the ASU Charter’s focus on inclusion.

Visit the Thunderbird Founders’ Day registration page to sign up or learn more.

Written by graduate student Christina Furst.

Jonathan Ward

Associate Director, Media Relations & Strategic Messaging, Thunderbird School of Global Management